Ballymena United’s youth team are certainly enjoying home comforts as their season goes from strength to strength.
Clifford Adams’ side are turning the 3G pitch at the SHowgrounds into something of a fortres and have yet to taste defeat at home this season.
They extended that sequence on Saturday but will be disappointed they didn’t do so with another NIFL Youth League victory, after conceding a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Cliftonville.
The Reds had the better of the early possession but Ballymena were very comfortable defensively and it was Robbie Perkins who dispossessed the Cliftonville midfielder and played a 40 yard pass to the right wing playing in Danny Black on goal who did well to hold off his man and hit an unstoppable shot past the Reds keeper giving him no chance on the 8th minute.
On the 16th minute Josh Corry took a quick throw in at left back and Ballymena recorded seven passes before Bonnes weaved his way past a couple of players before passing it into the corner of the net giving the keeper no chance.
Ben McCauley hadn’t much to do but pulled of an exceptional save tipping a shot onto the crossbar when it was destined for the roof of the net.
On the 35th minute Cliftonville pulled a goal back through Jamal Dupree after confusion in the Ballymena defence left him free to slot home.
Early in the second half, good play by Mark Lowry saw his 25 yard strike come off the cross bar.
On the 71st minute the wee skyblues lost midfielder Leon Bonnes through going over on his foot leaving United with ten men with all subs used. The skyblues changed their shape going with two blocks of four and one striker.
United had two gilt edged chances on the 75th and 81st minute with only the keeper to beat Lowry was thwarted by the Cliftonville keeper who was in inspired form.
Again on the 83rd minute after good work by Dave Woods, Paul Rodgers drove his strike into the side netting when well placed.
In the remaining minutes of normal time Cliftonville exerted extreme pressure and it eventually earned its reward in the fourth minute of injury time. the visitors floated a set piece into the back post and broke the wee Bky Blues’ heart with a late equaliser.
United youth: McCauley. Corry. Crawford. Agnew. Campbell. Logan. Bonnes. Lowry. Rodgers. Black. Perkins. Subs: McCready. D Woods. B Woods.
United are home to Ballyclare Comrades this Saturday.